The first podcast in a six-part series, On Tattoos, has just gone live on Anchor, iTunes, and Google Play.
Check out the gallery below to see my tattoos as I tell the stories of getting them and discuss their meanings in the podcast.
My first tattoo, a dragon with cherry blossom by Kanae.
My second tattoo, a mandala by India Amara.
My most recent tattoo (and ongoing work), a peony sleeve by Damien Rodriguez.
If you can’t wait for more tattoo talk, why not check out Kanae, Damien, and India, read this old post from the EYT archives, and remember to follow this blog and subscribe to the podcast on your platform of choice to keep up to date with the rest of the series over the coming weeks!
Today I swapped my daily skate for a snowball fight!
Apparently I’ve not been paying close enough attention to the weather forecasts (actually, I haven’t listened to one at all for some time now…) because it was a complete surprise too! My colleague Alex and I ran out of the lab and after pausing for a couple of minutes to appreciate the snowfall (which despite not setting too well was fairly heavy) got straight down to business pelting each other with snowballs – a great way to let off some steam after a long day’s work.
There’s something so satisfying about sinking one’s fingers into fresh snow, even if it was the final blow to my already dry winter skin (my cold after-work skates don’t do my skin any favours), actually splitting open at the knuckles. Ouch. Between having had some fairly mild winters of late and having spent a few winters in the Caribbean it has been some years since I last saw snow, much less had a snowball fight, and sure enough they’re still as fun as I remembered – there are some things you just can’t grow out of!
Bizarrely my home, only 6 miles from the lab, appears to have missed out on all the fun, the roof of my car bringing the only snow to be seen in the area… Well, that and the half-melted remains of a snowball found in my jacked pocket upon arriving home. I’d like to say the snowball fight was a battle I won, but alas she got me. She got me good.
Today I didn’t skate, but instead headed straight for the London Borough of Richmond after work, where I would spend my last evening as a 22 year old. I met up with my good friend Samantha at the station, and took off exploring the area! This evening was crisp but dry and clear, and so it was lovely to walk the streets and take in the ambience, catch up on life and have a laugh.
During our adventures we stumbled upon an amazing “games cafe” called The Library Pot that has hundreds of board games (over 450 unique titles) that you can pluck off the shelves at will and play with friends and strangers alike. Not only do they host several gaming events every single day (check their website for details), but if you get tired of playing around you can relax by dressing up in the many adult-sized costumes and accessories dotted around the shop, or by heading to their underground ball pit. Yup, they have an adult ball pit…
This friendly little shop is definitely worth a visit, but if planning a trip it is worth bearing in mind that it has such a strong community that weekends now require a booking just to get in (via their site). I’ll definitely be back soon!
Yesterday I met up with an old university friend I haven’t seen for well over a year. We met at one of my all time favourite spots: London’s South Bank – home of the legendary skate spot, the London Eye, all sorts of restaurants, concert venues, and markets (with Christmas markets now in full swing despite it being November). Being situated on the river, which at this point of its course is somewhere in the region of 250 to 300 metres wide, the South Bank is permitted a feeling of openness seldom felt in cities as crowded as London.
It was nice to wander about, catching up on life whilst taking in the hustle and bustle of the city. I have to admit that London always looks beautiful decked out in all its winter finery (if a little ridiculous that Christmas decorations should have gone up already). We had no plans beyond when and where to meet, but the magic of London is that even an impromptu day out is never dull; it is a city with opportunities for fun and adventure around every corner. The evening took us through the Christmas markets at the South Bank before crossing the river to explore Westminster’s bustling streets, starting with Leicester Square’s Christmas market and street performers, where Tina then had her first ever casino experiences at Casino at the Empire and the Hippodrome. We then nipped around the corner to Orbital (where I picked up some of the new Karnak comics I’ve been keen to read) on the way to my first ever Five Guys meal (pretty good, if a little expensive for a fast food joint – though paid for by my casino winnings). Once stuffed we sauntered through Covent Garden, always bright and lively (and nostalgic – particularly taking a gander in my childhood favourite Eric Snook’s), and on down to the South Bank to take in the river by night before heading our separate ways (though hopefully not for so long this time).
My recent adventures in London have stolen me away eastwards to the streets of Shoreditch, Islington, Mile End, and Peckham, so it felt great to be back in the stomping grounds of my youth: The City of Westminster. This is, of course, also the part of London most tourists come to see. There is much more to London than this little pocket of the heart of the city (making up only 0.01% of London’s total square mileage), but a little pocket that punches well above its weight, boasting some of the country’s finest palaces (including the Palace of Westminster and the Queen’s humble abode of Buckingham Palace), squares (Trafalgar square anyone?), and gardens (Hyde and St. James’ parks amongst others), as well as being home to “Theatreland” (the West End), some of London’s most famous shopping streets (such as Oxford and Regent streets), and an endless number of other landmarks, museums and galleries, and other attractions. If you’re going to explore London it’s certainly a good place to start.
Yesterday at London’s Copper Box Arena I saw my first ever British professional basketball match. In a hard fought game following a respectfully observed silence for Remembrance Sunday, London Lions narrowly lost to Newcastle Eagles by 88 to 81. The atmosphere was pleasant and the pace of play fast and exciting, with a personal highlight being a London Lions three-quarter-court shot at the close of the first half, causing the entire crowd to erupt with excitement – despite coming slightly after the clock had run out and therefore not affecting the score line.
The entire experience was pleasurable, from strolling through the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park through the throng of rugby league fans who’d descended upon the park’s London Stadium to see England’s rugby league Four Nations loss to Australia, to catching up with some old university friends from my time as an undergraduate at the game. And to top it all off entrance was cheap, for a professional sports game in London, anyway.
In an unexpected turn of events, Alesha Dixon (of “The Boy Does Nothing”, Strictly Come Dancing, and Britain’s Got Talent fame) took to the court during half time and challenged the crowd to step up and show off a talent. A young man, encouraged by the friend sitting next to him, took to the court in tap shoes and entertained the crowd for a few minutes before being stunned speechless by the grand reveal that this half time show had not in fact been arranged by the British Basketball League, but was instead being filmed for a new hidden camera talent show. Next, a video appeared on the big screens at either end of the arena showing a pair of choreographers known as Rich and Tone who, after boasting of their history of A-list clients and collaborators (including the King of Pop himself and Madonna amongst a myriad of other popular musicians and directors), told the boy he would soon be flying out to Hollywood for the next stage of the show’s competition. Exciting stuff!
Not too long ago I was introduced by a friend to an organisation called ‘Sounds From a Room’, or SOFAR for short, which organises gigs with a twist; you learn a show’s exact location no sooner than 24 hours before it starts, and only learn the show’s lineup once the artists are onstage in front of you. Everyone’s set is of equal length so there are no headliners. Venues range from someone’s living room (literally. I know, insane) to industrial and commercial spaces, and what’s more, there are practically no restrictions on genre or performance type so you could literally see anything. I was instantly intrigued.
Sure enough, five days later I found myself sitting with Samantha on a picnic blanket in the Bianca Road Brewery in Peckham, South London. Given the potential for a brewery to be a very industrial and cold setting, with their bare concrete floors and huge metal brewing vats, the soft lighting from some carefully placed fairy lights and the soft chatter of the crowd transformed the venue into a surprisingly intimate and cosy setting. Everyone seemed so at ease, sitting around on blankets and pillows strewn across the floor. At a SOFAR show the audience remains seated during sets, don’t chat during songs, or leave before every act has finished performing. Everything is about respecting and enjoying being at a live music show. Testament to this, both the crowd and performers alike were about as eclectic as I have ever seen at a single show: The first act was an alternative band called Spy From Moscow, playing delicate songs of guitar, trumpet, and cajón, with beautiful lyrics and melodies to match; next came Zia Ahmed, a poet with the perfect mix of comedy and tragedy, delivered beautifully to a rapt audience; and finally, a Belgian trio called Blow, who, armed with two saxophones and a drum kit, played their unique brand of ‘electronic’ music. Yet despite any superficial differences, everyone present was alike in the most important way: we were all there to have a good time listening to some live music.
And that’s exactly what music should be all about.
To attend a SOFAR show near you, perform, or even host your own, visit: https://www.sofarsounds.com.